Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Other Smith: Will Smith's Brother's Company Locks Animated Features

Will Smith get his hands on animation, so why can't his brother?

Harry Smith has a company called Smith Global Media. Previously, they signed a deal with Sony Home Entertainment, now they are getting into the animated features business. Another competitor has entered the proverbial ring...

The pictures in question come from Shrek producer John H. William's 3QU, one of Cinesite Animation's partners: Charming and Gnome Alone.

The former got itself a trailer a few weeks back, but then it got pulled. If you've been around here for a while, I've been tracking both of these. Charming is basically the Shrek coattail rider that looks like it was made in 2007. No shock, H. Williams and his Vanguard Animation also made the fractured fairy tale Happily N'ever After. Produced for $20 million, Charming is indeed hitting US theaters as of now. I don't mind the premise of it (Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty are all engaged to the same Prince Charming), but the trailer did little to give me confidence.

If any Grecians are reading this, can you confirm that IMDb's July 6th release date for the picture is true? Apparently South Africa gets it on August 4th. Honestly, it doesn't look all that theatrical to me, looks more direct-to-video quality than anything. But I've seen far worse at $20 million.

Gnome Alone was supposed to be directed by The Nut Job's Peter Lepeniotis, a tale where garden gnomes must fight off evil creatures from a fantasy land that are trying to invade their owners' house. A fantasy tale that was compared to 80s family movies, movies that weren't afraid to have a little bite. Lepeniotis compared it specifically to Ghostbusters, Gremlins, and... Monster Squad? If the movie lives up to that promise, then I think it could be a surprise. Animation really needs more family movies that aren't afraid to show some real frights.

Here's a first look...

... and a non-theatrical poster from Cinesite's website...

Those are... The creatures the gnomes are supposed to fight? Hmmm, not sure if I'm digging the design, looks like an evil Sour Bill with a pinch of Crazy Frog. I mean, I was kind of expecting something else, but I guess they may work out in the end. I do dig their name, though... The Troggs. I wouldn't be surprised if they made a reference to the band of the same name in the movie itself...

(If you're lost, they were a band that was mostly active in the mid-to-late 1960s, their biggest hit being the song 'Wild Thing,' which was covered in the rather infamous George Lucas animated fantasy-jukebox musical Strange Magic.)

Charming is done, judging by the pulled trailer and the Greece release date, though anyone can edit IMDb - which is why I ask. Cinesite's site seemingly hasn't been updated, because it says Charming is set for a spring 2017 debut, and says Gnome Alone is expected to be completed that same season... Well, spring 2017 is mere days behind us now, so...

Smith's company, however, intends to release the pictures in reverse order. Charming is now eying a Q2 2018 debut, Gnome Alone will set for later this year. They better hurry up and get a solid date for Gnome Alone, because The Star (also done by Cinesite for Sony) and Coco have taken up prime November slots, and Ferdinand rests in the middle of December. Not that these features are expected to be big behemoths anyways, so I guess any release date for Gnome Alone is fine. It could fare well some time in October, or maybe at the end of December. These things always change in animationland, so I don't expect the late 2017 date plans to be final.

Charming's aiming for the second quarter of 2018, meaning April-June... Again, a $20 million feature. Should have no real trouble, not that they need a bajillion dollars back. I'm surprised it's not going straight to video, but apparently some folk still think there's something to be made in fractured fairy tales, especially in the wake of Frozen's success, to say nothing of Disney's live-action fairy tale "reimaginings."

Meanwhile, Animal Crackers is still - as far as I know - without a US distributor... Makes me wonder if this team will pick it up.

What say you?

1 comment:

  1. I will never understand why a distributor would want to push a company's second film into release first if there's already another film ready for release.

    As for Animal Crackers, being the obsessive watcher that I am, that thing's US release still seems to be uncertain at this point. According to the Variety review of the movie (yes, the film already has reviews) there's a blurb at the end that mentions that it's "a Serafini Releasing release".

    Upon searching up said company, it seems that the only film they released so far was "Bazodee", a limited release that came out last August, and still doesn't have a video release. Animal Crackers would seem like an odd choice for the company, considering they release films that tell "stories from an African American, Latino, Caribbean, Indian, LGMT perspective."

    Of course, considering that Will Smith's brother has acquired these two animated films above, this wouldn't be so bad, however, this is when things begin to get interesting. You see, Serafini seems to have been a company has been trying to get off a ground for nearly a decade. A slideshow from 2009 reveals the studio's attempt to finance and distribute more mainstream films, among them, John Well's "The Company Men".

    Who knows if we'll see Animal Crackers this year, at least in the US. Scott has been anxiously waiting to release the trailer, even going far as to proclaim to "leak" the trailer. While he still hopes the film will come out on the first of September, it could possibly be pushed back into 2018.

    You'd think that from all the trouble he had dealing with RM, he would bring the film into much safer hands, but I guess we'll just wait and see how things will go.